Daryl Mitchell reached another milestone as Worcestershire secured four crucial bonus points from their latest solid batting performance this summer on the third day of the Bob Willis Trophy encounter with local rivals Warwickshire at Blackfinch New Road.
Opener Mitchell passed 13,000 first class runs for the County when he reached 96 and then went onto complete his first century against Warwickshire in first class cricket.
Mitchell has now scored first class hundreds for Worcestershire against all other counties except Surrey during his 15-year career.
Quick scoring continued to prove a challenge on a slow wicket as the Warwickshire bowlers emulated their Worcestershire counterparts in bowling a tight line and length.
But, after Mitchell and Jake Libby (84) had put on 177, impressive half-centuries from Jack Haynes and Tom Fell plus late order momentum from Ben Cox and Ed Barnard boosted the final total to 410-7 in 120 overs – a lead of 55.
It was the third time that Worcestershire have topped the 400 mark in four Bob Willis Trophy matches after 428-5 versus Gloucestershire at Bristol and 455-8 against Glamorgan at Blackfinch New Road.
They managed that once last season – against Leicestershire in the opening match at the Fischer County Ground – and today’s performance was another indication that all the hard work devoted to red ball cricket during last winter is paying handsome dividends.
Warwickshire made a solid start to their reply with openers Will Rhodes and Rob Yates putting on 68 either side of a spell off the field for bad light.
Mitchell, who scored his 37th first class hundred for Worcestershire, said: “They are all enjoyable and it’s always nice to score a few runs.
“It’s more of a mental test out there rather than a technical or skill one. It’s a pretty flat wicket, but very slow and quite difficult to score on.
“We are building decent foundations in the top four, which enables Brett (D’Oliveira), Riki (Wessels), Ben (Cox) and Ed (Barnard) down the order to put their foot on the gas a little bit more and play their natural game.
“It’s easier to do that from 250-4 than 50-4. The boys have worked hard all winter, put that into practice, and certainly, this is a wicket suitable for batting long periods.”
On his partnership with Jake Libby, Mitchell said: “Jake (Libby) is quite a similar, laidback character to myself. He has hit the ground running for us and been brilliant all season.
“He’s been a pleasure to open the batting with.”
Worcestershire resumed on 170-0 and seven runs were added before Oliver Hannon-Dalby made a breakthrough courtesy of a superb catch by Tim Bresnan.
Jake Libby had made a composed 84 and in the process 400 runs in the competition when he got a thick edge and Bresnan at slip held onto the chance at full stretch one-handed away to his right.
The former Nottinghamshire player had batted for nearly four hours and struck seven fours in his 189 ball knock.
At the time of Libby’s dismissal, only Ben Slater (Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire) had scored more runs than his overall total of 417.
Mitchell struck the first boundary of the day – a back foot cover drive off Sidebottom – to move into the 90s.
A single to third man off Craig Miles took Mitchell to three figures from 223 deliveries with 12 boundaries.
The 35-year-old advanced to 110 before he drove Miles to cover point where Rob Yates held another sharp catch with the total 214-2.
Tom Fell, fresh from his superb hundred at Northampton, and Jack Haynes upped the tempo during a stand of 89 in only 23 overs.
Haynes gave another demonstration of his potential with some powerful strokes, and Fell went down the wicket to Alex Thomson to bring up the 250 and a second batting point with a lofted straight drive.
A single off Thomson took Haynes to his half-century from 77 balls – a rapid effort in the context of the game – with seven fours before on 51 he was caught at deep mid-off from the bowling of Ryan Sidebottom.
Fell completed a 96 ball half-century with seven fours before he was yorked by Hannon-Dalby who in the same over bowled Riki Wessels (0) via an inside edge.
Brett D’Oliveira cut and pulled Sidebottom for boundaries in the same over before he was lbw to Bresnan for 15 at 325-6 in the 106th over.
But Cox and Barnard ensured a fourth batting point was secured in a stand of 82 in 14 overs.
Cox continued the run of crucial late order contributions he had made this summer in racing to 43 off 51 balls before he was lbw to Rhodes in the final over of the innings to leave Barnard unbeaten on 29.